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Armagh expected to reapply for ‘shared education’ campus as minister opens second call for schools

Armagh is expected to re-apply for a ‘shared eduction’ campus in the city after Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today opened the second call for schools.

Armagh’s proposal did not feature in the first three selected for approval by Mr O’Dowd in June.

However, Armagh City and District Council, Chief Executive John Briggs, speaking earlier this summer, said that feedback would follow which would allow the council the chance to reapply in the autumn.

Armagh’s bid proposed networked linkages between schools, combining at centres of excellence across the city that would have provided access to state of the art teaching and learning facilities across a range of disciplines.

If successful, the idea would be that there are two new schools, one for Catholic children and another mainly for Protestant children.

The schools would share sports and education resources and it would mean children could be offered a wider range of subjects across the education village.

The consensus group is made up of St Patrick’s Grammar and St Brigid’s High School, who plan to develop a Catholic voluntary school as part of the village, the City of Armagh High School and the Royal School, Armagh.

The  plan proposes a new post-primary building for the area, catering for pupils from the City of Armagh High School and offering a new non-selective choice for parents in the Armagh city and district area. A joint facility would link the Royal School, Armagh, with this new build.

In June we reported how two primary schools in Moy were to be housed on one site as one of the first three of the Minister’s campuses to proceed to planning stage.

The Minister’s programme provides schools with the opportunity to build on existing sharing arrangements and to access funding to help improve or provide shared educational facilities.

The deadline for the submission of proposals under this second call is 30 January 2015. The next set of projects approved to proceed in planning is expected to be announced in June 2015.

Speaking about the initiative, the Minister said: “There is no doubt that shared education has the potential to deliver real educational benefits, to ensure the best use of resources and to foster further cohesion between communities of different backgrounds. In this context, the Executive has committed to commencing 10 new shared education campuses in the next five years.

“Of course, many local schools are already engaged in shared education activities. The Shared Education Campuses Programme will build on these strong foundations and also complement the activities that will flow from the recent announcement by the First Minister and deputy First Minister of £25million for shared education.

“These measures taken together will help further embed and normalise sharing at school level among our local communities and, in turn, will contribute to the vision of a shared, reconciled society.”

The Minister continued: “After I announced the shared campuses programme in January, there was strong interest shown by local schools in getting involved. I would encourage revised applications from the first call, as well as new ones.”

The Minister added: “I look forward to giving full consideration to the shared education campus proposals that come forward.”

All schools will receive details of how to apply for the programme, including the full range of criteria that proposals must meet before they can be considered.

Further details on the Shared Education Campuses Programme and the application process are available by clicking here

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